March 2022 Newsletter
Ed Aguilar on: What's happening on fracking, and its chemical pollution, in the Delaware River Valley, and what can we do about it? Some urgent next steps.

Pennsylvanians have been worried for years about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice of drilling wells for oil and gas, which results in polluting our environment, releasing methane and chemical waste into our groundwater and air, as well. And ultimately, this contributes to our growing global climate crisis, as methane is a more deadly greenhouse gas, for up to 20 years after emission, than even carbon dioxide.
UNA-GP and our allies worked in 2020-2021 to educate and lobby against this. Our first victory was a year ago, when the DRBC (Delaware River Basin) voted to ban hydraulic fracking anywhere in the Delaware Valley, which provides clean water for our 17 million residents.
Banning fracking was a huge victory for our activists and the public-- experts said this victory protected "New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland from toxic pollutants linked to cancer, among other dire health impacts. It was also a big win for the climate crisis fight, because every stage of fracking releases methane." 

But there's a catch - the ban was not 100% — now, DRBC has drafted regulations that could support dangerous fracking operations in the region in two ways:

1. Wastewater produced by fracking in other parts of the region could be imported into the watershed, where it could contaminate the water and pollute the surrounding environment and 
2. Water from the Delaware River Basin could be exported and used for fracking operations elsewhere the region, undercutting the goal of reducing fracking-related pollution in the area.

Facts on Fracking from Natural Resources Defense Council:
The Delaware River Basin is the watershed at the base of the Delaware River, the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi that stretches from the Catskills in New York State through parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. It provides drinking water to 17 million people, is one of the most important fisheries in the country, and is a critical habitat for countless species (including native trout, American eels, and bald eagles), some of which are now endangered in the Delaware Bay.  
There is no safe way to handle, treat, and dispose of fracking wastewater. Where there's wastewater, there are spills. And where there are spills, there is pollution that contaminates our water, destroys habitats, and makes people sick.
So, the idea of pumping water out of the Basin to be used for fracking operations elsewhere makes no sense. Fracking uses enormous amounts of water — just one fracking well uses millions of gallons of water — and nearly all of that water is lost in the fracking process. And what water is left is contaminated. That means less water for drinking, farming, and fishing.

UNA-GP and Coalition for Peace Action say: We must pursue a full ban on fracking to keep our health, water, and communities safe from harm. To write your own comments, click on DRBC, today, and thanks!
Ed Aguilar, JD
UNA-GP Board
Coalition for Peace Action PA Director

From Christiaan's desk
After two years of running havoc around planet Earth the COVID-19 PANDEMIC seems to be morphing into an endemic. The universal race to develop vaccines, followed by the traditional distribution policies of starting at centers of the global economy has created enough of population level immunity that the early steps of masking, sanitizing, social distancing and “working from home where possible” can be relaxed while the careful monitoring of incidences and morbidity levels is now a new tool in our public health policy apparatus. 

 We are coming out of a two year long social drama, a social eruption, that is still unfolding. Some of it is old hat, like the usual protests against mandatory restrictive policies by the government, going back as far as the 17th century when angry people broke out or in of cholera quarantines.  We now know of essential workers, funeral homes have learned to have digital ceremonies, while many of us still are getting upset with the distance in this most intense of social bonding, the mourning of loved ones. And we have learned to zoom meet, to grub-hub, to create electronic dashboards to keep track or work and productivity; we have learned to order materials for home improvement projects online and we have learned of porch thieves and what not. Elbow hugging is safe, shoulder bouncing not yet.

  This narrative is important, especially as it affects volunteer organizations. We have seen the demise of many volunteer organizations, and many businesses that provide an environ or a venue for the social needs of peoples. Membership numbers for all kind of volunteer groups stagnated and or declined. We at the UNA-GP went virtual in late February 2020 and, but for a few face-to-face meetings of a few board members, we still are in zoom mode. Growth and outreach plans went to the backburner. UNA-GP did work on those things that could be done virtually; Miranda organized one event in person over the summer. We tried hard, but the loss in energy, the weariness  with COVID, was palpable. Projects were pondered, analyzed, but then shelved. And we are not the only UNA chapter experiencing this drop in action and the fatigue.

    This year we are getting back. With immunity growing the morbidity and mortality will become “manageable”; hospitals may see returns to the normal staffing routines, an uptick in parking violations can be expected. A Philadelphia delegation will attend the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar. A garden party is in the works and a membership recruitment outreach is planned among young adults who have learned the value of the UN, specifically the WHO, as it coordinated the global response to the Pandemic. We are re-starting our fun(d) raising  and awareness building events in collaboration with others. Our team is rebuilding and updating our website, making it not only our entry hall but also a directive venue to the global market of UN communications. Membership planning is dusted off, updated and will be a cornerstone of our outreach work. And we need members to do all that.
  We re-group, we re-assessed, and we will carry on.
    Christiaan Morssink

The Global Water Alliance will be presenting and working at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, March 21-26, 2022. The Philly based all-volunteer organization of professionals and students will take on this project as “Sur la Route the Dakar, the Voices of Youth from Philadelphia and beyond.”
The impetus for this project was the acceptance of two presentations submitted by the GWA. One is a flagship presentation that highlights the arsenic-removal work done in the rural communities in West Bengal; the other involves our collaboration with the Fairmount Water Works, highlighting the art of (water) education through a historical and liberal arts lens, supplementing the usual STEM curriculum on water. These presentations were accepted as two of 71 worldwide. The FFW presentation by Ellen Schultz, in honor of the late Ed Grusheski, will be under the heading of “water literacy models”, an area that the World Water Council considers very relevant for building the world’s capacity to manage water in sustainable ways.
The Global Water Alliance, working on Sustainable Development Goals as they pertain to WaSH, believes that Philadelphia has a lot to offer in the world’s  water “markets” and they do prepare students, faculty, agencies, and  companies to take on a global perspective when learning about water and hygiene and competing for jobs, contracts, and advocacy work.
A contingent of about 23 experienced as well as brand-new professionals (graduate students in their last semester actually) will be going to DAKAR. GWA has rented a booth at the Forum and will present their work, and promote the work of Philadelphia-based entities that operate in research, education, infrastructure, and service work. The University of Pennsylvania is providing travel stipends for two GWA members and 13 students. Wake Forest University members of GWA will join the delegation, as well as a student from Manchester University in the UK.  Media support will be provided by WHYY, and in-country transportation support will be arranged by our collaborating partners in Dakar.
Pictures from the 3-6-22 Independence Mall rally for Ukraine, below
Dear Friends of UNA-GP,
We hope you will join us in strengthening support for renewed US commitment to our global community. Use the link below to join the national United Nations Association, listing Philadelphia as your chapter, to help us with our work for international peace and social justice that includes us all. If you have been a participant with UNA-GP and aren't sure if your membership is up to date, this is an easy link to renew!